Using ultrasound visual biofeedback to treat persistent primary speech sound disorders

Cleland, Joanne and Scobbie, James M. and Wrench, Alan A. (2015) Using ultrasound visual biofeedback to treat persistent primary speech sound disorders. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 29 (8-10). pp. 575-597. ISSN 0269-9206 (

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Growing evidence suggests that speech intervention using visual biofeedback may benefit people for whom visual skills are stronger than auditory skills (for example, the hearing impaired population, Bacsfalvi et al., 2007), especially when the target articulation is hard to describe or see. Diagnostic ultrasound can be used to image the tongue and has recently become more compact and affordable leading to renewed interest in it as a practical, non-invasive visual biofeedback tool. In this study we evaluate its effectiveness in treating children with persistent speech sound disorders that have been unresponsive to traditional therapy approaches. A case series of seven different children (aged 6;0 to 11;0) with persistent speech sound disorders was evaluated. For each child high-speed ultrasound (121fps), audio and lip video recordings were made whilst probing each child’s specific errors at five different time points (before, during and after intervention). After intervention all of the children made significant progress on targeted segments, evidenced by both perceptual measures and changes in tongue-shape.